University research drives a new wave of innovation
Omar Cheema, Nanotechnology Business Development, Imperial College London, who is responsible for developing investor and industry partnerships for Imperial College in the areas of nanotechnology and biomedical engineering
As a world-class university, Imperial College London educates the brightest and best, employs leading-edge scientists and is in touch with the world of business.
Innovative research at Imperial explores the interface between science, technology, medicine and business and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture. Imperial?s Business Development team forms the core interface between Imperial and the needs of industry, driving the creation of strategic research collaborations.It has become widely accepted that nanotechnology is not just the latest market bubble or technology hype but a real driver of change across multiple industries and indeed in our lifestyle.
After the rise and fall of the IT economy, and the stalled biotech take-off, markets were initially cautious towards this new wave of technological innovation, but not any longer. Estimates of nanotechnology being a trillion dollar market are being revised to two or three times the size. Sceptical debates about the definition of nanotechnology have given way to action-oriented discussions about how nanotechnology should be applied to each technologydependent industry: electronics, energy and environment, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, automotive, aerospace, food and packaging, chemicals, and more. The ?plenty of room at the bottom?, famously identified by Richard Feynman, has now caught the attention of everyone.
Nanotechnology is creating a new economy dynamic just as IT did in the early 1990s. However there is one marked difference between IT and nanotechnology: the strong dependence of the latter on university-based research. The nature of nanotechnology is that of a platform technology, a tool for innovation, not an end product in itself. The key factors are platform technology research and how to innovate this research into game-changing applications. UK universities have a long history of success in these aspects of innovation.
Public sector funding of nanotechnology has made up for a venture capital community slowly recuperating from the fallout of biotech and IT downturns. The Microsystems and Nanotechnology (MNT) initiative of the DTI has provided a much needed stimulus. Imperial College London, in collaboration with University College London and the National Physical Laboratory, is utilising this funding to establish a product innovation centre for UK manufacturing industry in bio-nanotechnology.
Imperial has made bionanotechnology and the related area of personalised healthcare the main strategic foci for its new Institute of Biomedical Engineering in South Kensington, London. International investors such as Advance Nanotech Inc. have committed over £3.4 million of funding to bio-nano projects at the Institute and its spin-out partners, including:
Creative research has to be supplemented by special business models to realise and accelerate the transformation of university research into industry innovation. Business development services at Imperial have tailored a menu of business models for engaging industry and private sector investors into the nanotechnology adventure.
Imperial College London
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